“I thought we were pretty dominant tonight from start to finish,” Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau told the Associated Press Tuesday night. “It goes to show that when your best player gets down that the guys are rallying around him. It's almost like we’re showing you that he didn't deserve to be suspended [and] we’ll carry on anyway.”
But fans shouldn’t be surprised by Washington’s performance against the Panthers.
Ovechkin has been out of the lineup for nine games this season—six games because of an upper body injury and the other three because of two separate suspensions.
So far this season, the Caps are 7-2 with Ovechkin out of the lineup. But what’s more remarkable is that Washington has scored 44 goals in those nine games.
Sunday’s 4-3 overtime win over the Chicago Blackhawks was by far the most impressive. Technically, Ovechkin did not miss the game, but he played just under five minutes after receiving a game misconduct for boarding Chicago defenseman Brian Campbell.
Ovechkin left the game with the Caps trailing 1-0. Washington trailed 3-0 heading into the third, but scored three goals in just over two minutes to tie the game and then eventually won it in overtime—all without the help of the league’s leading scorer, Ovechkin.
Of the nine games that Ovie has missed, Washington has scored six or more goals four times.
Washington’s outpouring of offense in Ovie’s absence can largely be attributed to the team’s other superstars.
Nicklas Backstrom and Alexander Semin have combined for 22 points in the nine games Ovechkin has missed this season, while defenseman Mike Green—having missed one game himself—has 11 points in eight games.
“It’s nice that everyone contributes when [Ovechkin’s] not in there,” Capitals’ forward Jason Chimera told the Associated Press after Tuesday’s win. “That's important down the stretch in case someone big like that goes out. It’s nice to know we can score goals without him.”
If the Caps lose Ovechkin at all in the playoffs, the team they are playing better be careful, because it could get worse without the superstar in the lineup.